Here are today’s legislative takeaways:

  • Homeowner and tenant protection bills are separately advancing through both branches of the Massachusetts legislature but have not made it to the governor’s desk yet.
  • Bills moving the state tax collection deadline, allowing for take-out sales of beer and wine, allowing boards to meet virtually and pushing back municipal property tax collection deadlines were sent to the governor’s desk for his signature.
  • A staggering 181,000 Massachusetts residents filed for unemployment last week.
  • Also kicking around on Beacon Hill is a bill on what to do about MCAS this year. The US Dept. of Education has granted waivers to all 50 states to skip statewide standardized testing this year but Massachusetts has yet to make a final call.
  • You can visit state parks and beaches but only if you walk or ride a bike to them, as Gov. Baker closed all Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) parking lots yesterday.


  1. The Massachusetts House of Representatives passed a bill to protect renters and homeowners in a greater capacity than one that received approval out of the Senate earlier this week. The House bill blocks court-ordered evictions and prevents landlords from sending “notice to quit” letters to tenants. The Senate bill, while it has yet to pass, blocks eviction notices ordered by judges for up to 90 days. Both bills will need to be reconciled before making their way to the governor’s desk.


  1. There was a lot of legislative activity in response to COVID-19 on Beacon Hill yesterday with the House and Senate sending finalized bills to the Governor for his signature to aide cities and towns across the Commonwealth weather the economic effects of COVID-19.


  1. More workers filed for unemployment in the last two weeks than they did all of last year. From March 22-28, just over 181,000 people filed for unemployment in Massachusetts. Nationally, over 6.65 million people have made unemployment claims.


  1. The U.S. Department of Education has granted waivers to all 50 states and U.S. territories allowing them to skip statewide standardized tests as required by federal law, yet Massachusetts has yet to decide what to do about the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS) exam. A bill passed the House of Representatives granting the Commissioner of Education Jeff Riley, the authority to modify or waive the exam. It is expected to be taken up in the Senate next week.


  1. The governor has ordered all state beach parking lots closed to prevent crowds from creating a “breeding ground” for COVID-19, taking the first step to crack down on those not adhering to the social distancing executive order.


  1. A bill allowing for restaurants to sell beer and wine along with take-out orders is on the governor’s desk awaiting his signature. Under the bill restaurants would be allowed to sell 192 ounces of beer, or 16 bottles of 12-ounces, and 1.5 liters of wine, the equivalent of two bottles, per transaction.